What is integrative therapy?

top-down vs. bottom-up

top down: Traditional talk therapy is considered to be a “top-down” approach that works with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to build awareness and ultimately elicit change.

bottom up: Approaches that work with your body to gain insight into physical sensations and stress. Using specific intervention with the body to release stress and create greater feelings of safety and relaxation.

bringing the body into psychotherapy for trauma

Integrating top-down and bottom-up approaches in therapy work to reconnect our minds and bodies. Our bodies often hold “body memories” that influence our emotional reactions. In other words, our body is “misfiring” in effort to keep us safe and we are emotionally reacting to these physiological sensations. Building a new relationship with our physical body and learning to better understand and communicate with these body memories can offer us a more holistic and effective way to approach trauma treatment. Becoming “embodied” allows us to be present with this stored stress that our minds are skilled at avoiding.

3 bottom-up tools we have to compliment talk therapy

breath work (pranayama): Maybe the most valuable tool we have in creating emotional balance. Using our breath allows us to focus on something while working with our stress response. For example, learning to take long, slow, even breaths takes practice for most of us, but it has a big impact on how we build resilience and cope with in-the-moment stressors.

meditation: The goal of meditation is that of self-realization. It helps many of us feel a sense of calm balance and have a greater capacity to cope with stress. This clarity can help us expand in our understanding of ourselves and to practice emotional flexibility.

restorative yoga: Using physical postures, often supported by props and held for several minutes. These postures are meant to be relaxing and feel good, to release stress and areas of physical tension. Restorative yoga is usually combined with pranayama and meditation and allows us to become embodied and heal from trauma.